Catholic Center vandalized in midst of statewide abortion debate

.- Vandals spray painted a symbol on a pro-life sign in front of the Pius XII Newman Center at South Dakota State University in Brookings and painted “NO IRAQ WAR” on the front of the church, reported the Dakota Voice.

The vandalized sign is part of a display which travels to different locations around South Dakota each week. It notes that 828 abortions were performed in South Dakota in 2002 and indicates that 44 million abortions were executed in the U.S. since Roe vs. Wade in 1973. The display has been at the Newman Center since last Saturday, and is to remain until this Saturday.

The pastor, Fr. Rutten, said he is checking into what it will take to replace the sign. Local police are currently investigating but no suspects have been found.

Rutten also said he didn't understand why a statement on the Iraq war was sprayed on the Newman Center, considering that the Catholic Church typically speaks against war, and made a particular stand against the war in Iraq.

South Dakota is in the midst of a major statewide debate as voters face a Nov. 7 referendum on legislation that would ban most abortions.

A recent Mason-Dixon poll found 47 percent of voters oppose the ban, 39 percent favor it and 14 percent are undecided. However, when asked if they would support the ban if it had exceptions for rape and incest, the percentage of those backing it rose to 59 percent. (See related CNA story)

"The coming referendum presents an opportunity for South Dakota to model for the nation the manner in which substantial public debate regarding this volatile moral issue can be carried on with respect, honesty and conviction," writes Bishop Blase Cupich of Rapid City in the Sept. 11 issue of America Magazine.

In one of his regular columns in the West River Catholic, the bishop said the framing of the issue as “reproductive rights” distracts from the fact that abortion is really a human rights issue “about protecting human life from conception which is supported by people of all faiths and none.”

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